I woke up tired today.
It was definitely one of those days where if I didn't have to work, I would still be in bed. It's always exhausting. The onward march of this life with the pain. And lately, it seems I am always tired.
Recently I was helping one of my freshman students with an assignment. She told me that reading was a struggle. "I have trouble with comprehension," were her exact words.
We began with her English 1 homework, a short story entitled, "Hamadi", by Naomi Shihab Nye. Her assignment was to examine characterization and point of view. Specifically, three paragraphs on how one of the characters, Saleh Hamadi, uses imagination and memory to cope with the struggles of living far from home.
I began to read aloud to her, something I never do with my Biology classes and it was nice. I liked the story so much that I was happy when she approached me two days later.
"Could we finish?"
There were parts of the story that made me smile, and other parts that made me want to cry. And I probably would have, today, had there not been 21 other students sitting near me at the time. Half listening and half not-so-discretely texting in my brief absence from their shoulder space.
There's the part where Hamadi quotes Khalil Gibran. When he is asked why he never visits his homeland and insists that is incorrect.
"Remembrance is a form of meeting," he says. "And I do believe I meet with my cousins every day."
Or when the main character, a teenage girl and an immigrant herself, describes the counselors at her school as treating"the world as if it were a yardstick and they had tight hold of both ends."
We stopped a few times, to digest all we'd read and soon there were ten minutes left before the bell and students began to shuffle their backpacks. She looked at me.
"There's one more page," I asked.
She nodded. And I'm glad she did.
Because in the very last paragraph there is a girl crying, about a boy she likes liking someone else instead and Hamadi hugs her. And he says something the main character will never forget. And I read something I will never forget.
"We go on," he tells her. "We don't stop where it hurts."
"We turn a corner. It is the reason why we are living. To turn a corner."
"Come," he says.